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Top Book Blogs 01/2012

[Bookslut] It's OK to Have a Point: A Defense of Literature with an Agenda
Writing with an agenda creates bad literature. This is a consistent idea in contemporary writing about writing. Book reviewers, critics, and writing teachers all tell us an agenda leads to preachy works that insult the intelligence of the reader, restrict...

[Bookslut] An Interview with Thrity Umrigar
Here's a moment of literary serendipity: on the morning my Bookslut interview with Luis Alberto Urrea went up, I happened to be finishing the galley of Thrity Umrigar's latest novel, The World We Found. Amazingly, here's what appears in the penultimate...

[Bookslut] An Interview with Neal Pollack
"Neal Pollack wipes his ass with your novel." That was the first line of Bookslut's last interview with Neal Pollack, almost a decade ago. He had just published The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature, and Nevermind the Pollacks was on...

[Bookslut] Reading Cheever in Bullet Park
My grandmother lived in Westport, Connecticut, for more than forty years. Last winter, she passed away and her antique, tomato-toned house was placed onto the market. After four months, the house still sat unsold. My girlfriend and I, in limbo...

[Bookslut] Rediscovering Gladys Mitchell
Like so many love affairs, this one started with a chance meeting. Gladys Mitchell appeared in my life one day when a trio of her novels tumbled out of a puffy envelope, and caught my eye as surely as...

[Bookslut] Going Sane, Going Soft: The Evolution of Adam Phillips
Recent evidence suggests that Adam Phillips is worried about us. In the past few years the essayist and psychoanalyst has published books called things like Going Sane: Maps of Happiness, (2005), On Kindness (2009), and On Balance (2010). Judging just from these titles--as opposed...

[Bookslut] The Family Doctor
In the past eleven years I’ve lived in five cites, three countries, and my cat turns fourteen this summer, which is noted in her EU passport alongside her vaccinations, flea treatments, and teeth cleanings. I wish my own healthcare...

[Bookslut] Amnesia
Sometimes a small thing in a book--a picture, a few words--changes everything. On page 192, there’s an ink drawing of a black cat, looming, its eyes wide, its back arched. It’s hovering over a man in a single bed,...

[Bookslut] Invisible Dragon: Reading the Culture Wars
The crux of Dave Hickey’s The Invisible Dragon is rage. Fury that beauty, for centuries art’s cause and effect, was, at the end of the twentieth century maligned, neutralized and thus ineffective in its innately democratic purpose. “If you broached...

[Bookslut] Star-Crossed: Edith Wharton and Julian Barnes
Each issue the Star-Crossed column chooses two or more writers who were born during a particular month and talks about their work.  January Birthdays:  Edith Wharton – born January 24, 1863, New York City Julian Barnes – born January 19,...

[Salon Books] “The Orphan Master’s Son”: Love in the kingdom of lies
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[Salon Books] What was J.D. Salinger working on?
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[Salon Books] Tucson says banished books may return to classrooms
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[NYT] Book Review Podcast: Ben Jonson, In and Out of Shakespeare's Shadow
Charles Isherwood talks about a new biography of Ben Jonson, the famous British playwright who was eventually eclipsed by Shakespeare.

[Salon Books] The anger of the male novelist
When I read the final paragraph of Teddy Wayne’s essay, “The Agony of the Male Novelist,” I couldn’t help but think about the ecstasy of the male porn star. While male porn stars earn a fraction of what female porn stars earn, they still get to deliver the money shot at the end of a scene.It

[Salon Books] “Justified’s” hero gets his own book
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[Salon Books] The making of a con artist
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[Salon Books] William Gibson: I really can’t predict the future
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[Salon Books] “Wanted Women”: The she-devil and the martyr
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[Baby Got Books] NBCC Awards Finalists
The National Book Critics Circle have announced the finalists for their annual book awards.  I’m always interested in this list because (a) I’m a member of the NBCC (but my nominations rarely make the cut), and (b) the list always includes books I’m not remotely familiar with.  

[NYT] Tale of Comic Adventures Wins Newbery Medal
Jack Gantos's "Dead End in Norvelt" was deemed 2011's most outstanding contribution to children's literature.

[Salon Books] The deathly mark of Jewish ancestry
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[Guardian Books Blog] Cormac McCarthy: now on Twitter?
Cormac McCarthy – surely one of America's most reclusive, technologically phobic authors – appears to have debuted on the social networking site. Really?Eyebrow-raising news from across the Atlantic. In the past 24 hours, Cormac McCarthy appears to have joined Twitter, had a mini love-in with

[Baby Got Books] The Abstinence Teacher
After listening to The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta (my review)  I was interested in checking out some of his other work.   I chose the audio version of The Abstinence Teacher, frankly because it was immediately available at the library. Ruth, a divorced mother of two girls, is a Sex Education

[Guardian Books Blog] The Costa prize's unexpected cliffhanger
Is the Costa book of the year poised to go to a poetry collection for the third year running?Last year's rumpus over the Booker long- and shortlists has left the Costa prize to claim a high ground which it has in the past been at pains to avoid. Robert McCrum wrote on Sunday about the "uncool

[Salon Books] The words we live by
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[Guardian Books Blog] Andrew Miller's Pure: the best kind of historical novel
Miller's tale of Paris before the revolution captures the past without any hint of artificialityIntelligent, serious and thought-provoking, but also entertaining, Andrew Miller's Pure is the best kind of historical novel.Reading it, you feel as if you are in Paris before the revolution, a city

[Baby Got Books] Ready Player Two
Our fearless leader Tim’s review of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One inspired me to add that one to the stack, and what a great add it was.  If Tim was Player One, I guess I’m Player Two. If you’ve read anything at all about Cline’s book, you probably know that it takes

[Guardian Books Blog] Short stories win their own Costa award
A high-profile prize for this genre will train some welcome spotlight on an under-espoused formShock news at the Costas last night — and not about Andrew Miller's triumph, either. Before the winner was even unveiled, Costa CEO John Derkach took to the stage to announce that the prizes –

[Salon Books] A cabbie’s view of Chicago
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[Salon Books] Lessons from the paperback revolution
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[Guardian Books Blog] Independence for Scottish literature
If Scotland gains full autonomy, its literature won't be far behind and 'British' writing will look rather thinner as a resultLast night, as I listened to Alex Salmond give a cunning and subversive account of his plans for Scottish independence, in the Hugo Young lecture, it occurred to me that if

[Guardian Books Blog] JRR Tolkien's Middle-earth gets a complete genealogy
Tolkien's densely populated fictional world is now the subject of a minutely-detailed 'family tree project'I am a Tolkien fan. I reread Lord of the Rings every now and then; seeing the trailer for The Hobbit sent shivers down my spine; my daughter is called Merry, for goodness sake. But my devotion

[Baby Got Books] Maurice Sendak on Colbert
Steven Colbert visits Maurice Sendak. Awesomeness ensues. Sadly I can’t embed the clips, so you’ll have to go check it out at Comedy Central. (thanks for the heads up, Anne!) Part 1 Part 2

[Salon Books] Salman Rushdie, back on trial
The Jaipur Literature Festival is a remarkable thing. It calls itself “the greatest literary show on earth.” In many ways, it is. Over 70,000 people show up. It’s organized by writers, not event managers. It’s free. Great crocodiles of school children in winter blazers crowd its sessions.

[Guardian Books Blog] François Hollande's Shakespearean faux pas
The French presidential hopeful has been busy quoting Shakespeare. Question is: which Shakespeare?Had to post this in case anyone has yet to see it (in which case: you're welcome!). Attempting to sum up his anti-Sarkozy message in a speech to his party faithful yesterday, France's presidential

[Guardian Books Blog] The future of books, today
There is much talk of bright tomorrows for publishing at New York's Digital Book World expo, but how optimistic are readers?While we've all been thinking about Andrew Miller and the Costa's new enthusiasm short stories and Rushdie's troubles in Jaipur, in New York, publishers have been looking to

[Salon Books] Alt-rock hitmaker: Why I hate my band
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[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Global governance
In a global virtual world

[Salon Books] The strange, spiritual life of Leo Tolstoy
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[Book Forum] DAILY REVIEW: The Incomplete Cain
Somebody always takes it about as far as it'll go, and no one took the hard-boiled farther than Paul Cain. Cain's entire contribution to the genre — a slim novel and 14 stories, some of which haven't seen print since the 1930s — is now available as The Complete Slayers from Centipede

[Book Forum] PAPER TRAIL: Jan 27, 2012 @ 4:00:00 am
Do book bloggers matter? Reed Exhibitions thinks so...

[Guardian Books Blog] What are you reading today?
It's an endlessly interesting conversation-starter, and we'd like to record your answers on a Flickr galleryWhat are you reading? is often the start of a great conversation. We swap book recommendations and write about the books we've just read on the site, but now we'd like to invite you to answer

[Guardian Books Blog] Scottish independence won't cut off British literature
English and Scottish literature have always been complicated hybrids, and separating the nations won't change thatJust before Alex Salmond gave the Hugo Young lecture, I received an email from the Scottish government announcing their plan to make it compulsory for every schoolchild doing "English"

[Baby Got Books] Friday Links
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) shows that the ranking is entirely unearned. Atlanta ranked forth most literate city. — AJC(@ajc) January 26, 2012 The closing of another Atlanta indie bookstore also suggests that “forth” might be too high on the list. Electric

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: The gayest story ever told
How advertising shapes the image of gayness in America

[Guardian Books Blog] Oscars' big winners will be books
Literary adaptations look set to sweep the board in Hollywood this yearSix of the nine nominations announced this week for Best Picture are based on books, reflecting a recent pattern in which the Oscar lists have consistently and gratifyingly affirmed cinema's dependence on literature. Apart from a

[NYT] 'War Horse' Film Turns Book Into Best Seller in Britain
The novel 'War Horse' sells more copies in two weeks than it did in its first 25 years.

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Styles of the times
Not just in the way it produces a general subject

[Book Forum] PAPER TRAIL: Jan 27, 2012 @ 12:00:00 pm
The good news:the Chicago Tribune is getting a new stand-alone, 24-page book review section. The bad news: ...

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